Lost & Found

After her husband dies in a car accident, Emma Haines-Gaunt is encouraged by her mother and sister to attend a therapy group for widows. Though reluctant to even give it a try, Emma finds herself in a church basement listening to heartbreaking stories of tragedy from her fellow therapy members. When she notices a mysterious man during the session, Emma is intrigued by him, only to realize it is her childhood friend and ex-love Harry Styles. Her mind spirals when she realizes he must have lost his spouse somewhere along the way. And try as she might, she can’t seem to shake him from her mind. The two of them begin a harrowing journey of loss and redemption, determined to help each other find solace in the tragedy that their lives have become.

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7. The tale of a confused girl.

“If I have one more, Harry, I’m gonna be drunk,” Emma said, shaking her finger at him as she sat next to him on a barstool at a random pub he suggested. Harry let out an amused laugh, looking over at her.

“Well, Emma, I think you’re already drunk, my friend,” he snickered, taking another sip of his beer.

“You got me drunk,” Emma grumbled.

“I got you drunk? Really? Whose idea was this again?” He laughed out loud, looking mildly offended, although she knew he wasn’t – not really.

“I’ll have you know I have yet to take out even one pound from my wallet. It’s you, mister,” she said, poking his bicep with her index finger.

“I can’t make the pretty girl pay,” he scoffed, looking at her incredulously.

“You still think I’m pretty?” Emma asked, looking at him wide-eyed and curious.

“Of course I still think you’re pretty, Emmy. You’re beautiful. You’ve only gotten better,” he told her matter-of-factly.

Harry,” she breathed, feeling every vessel in her heart tighten with his words. He chuckled at her reaction.

“Did you really think I could just turn off those kinds of feelings?” He asked quietly, avoiding eye contact altogether.

Emma almost couldn’t breathe at the mentioning of feelings. It tore at her thinking back to their end – back to the selfish way she just left him and led him on after the fact because she was too cowardly to tell him she wasn’t coming back. She pushed back the tears that were prickling at her eyes as she bowed her head, looking down at her glass.

The silence was killing her. She wanted to say something. She wanted to say everything she always meant to say. But she wasn’t sure if it would come out right. She swallowed back the lump in her throat and lifted her head to look up at him. His head lifted too and his wondering eyes met hers.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“For what?” He asked curiously.

“For everything. Just… everything,” she sighed, shaking her head.

“Emma…” He breathed lowly.

“No, Harry. I need to… I need to say it. I need… I just need you to know that I never meant to… to hurt you. I never meant to string you along. I just… I couldn’t bear to be the one who broke your heart,” she explained, finding it hard to hold back her emotions.

“It was inevitable,” he said quietly.

“See… I just… I’m so sorry. You have no idea how much I have carried with me all these years… how much of you I have carried with me,” she told him as her chest started to heave slightly as she worked herself up.

“I’ve carried you with me too,” he admitted.

“I just… I’m sorry. I’m gonna cry. I can feel it. I’m sorry,” she said, dabbing at her eyes.

“Don’t cry. I can’t handle seeing you cry, Emma,” he said, sounding slightly alarmed.

“I just… I have so much regret when it comes to you. I don’t think I’ll ever not feel that,” she told him truthfully.

“Hey, just… just, we’ve done this already, remember? We’ve apologized. Can we… can we just enjoy the night?” He suggested, halting their devastating conversation.

“Yeah,” she breathed quietly, looking down at her glass again.

“Okay,” he said quietly, doing the same.

The silence engulfed them once again and Emma knew avoiding the topic of conversation was getting them nowhere, but she didn’t want to tread there again. Not right now.

“Will you excuse me? I’ve just got to make a phone call – you know, about Haven,” Harry said, giving Emma a lopsided smirk.

“Haven?” She questioned, looking at him wide-eyed.

“My daughter,” he reminded her.

“Oh. Oh, right. I-I knew that. You told me that,” she said as a slow sinking feeling established itself in the pit of her stomach, thinking of her own daughter, Madeline.

She was sitting at a bar, drinking with a man she barely knew anymore. What kind of mother was she?

“It’s alright. I just… my mum’s gonna have to keep her for the night since… well, since I’ve been drinking,” Harry said, getting up from his barstool.

“Right,” Emma said, feeling like her mind was a million miles away.

She knew she should be allotted some time away from Madeline – some time for herself – but she never felt like she needed it. And now she just felt nothing but guilt for impairing herself like this.

After Harry walked away, Emma pulled out her cell phone from her purse. Holy shit, it was already passed midnight. What the hell was she thinking? She quickly text her mother. She didn’t call because she didn’t want her to hear the slurring in her voice. And it took her many typo corrections to get the text just right – fumbling fingers and all – but she managed.

Emma: I'm sorry I'm not home yet. I hope you didn't wait up.

It took a few moments, but her mother responded back.

Mum: This wouldn't have to do with that handsome boy who picked you up tonight, would it?

Emma: We are just talking. Please drop it.

Mum: Consider it dropped. I love you, poppet.

Emma: Give Maddie a kiss for me.

Mum: I already did. Please try to have a good time.

Emma sighed knowing that the topic of her and Harry would not be dropped by the morning. Her mother was sure to go into twenty questions at breakfast. She meant well, but sometimes she would just like her to take a step back.

“Can I get a water?” Emma asked the bartender after she stowed away her phone.

“A water? Giving up on me already?” Harry asked, smirking at her as he took his stool once again. The bartender poured a glass of water and slid in front of Emma.

“I-I… I can’t believe I drank as much as I did. And it’s late. This was irresponsible,” she said, shaking her head, completely disappointed with herself. Harry let out a deep sigh with her words.

“You know, it’s okay to not be perfect all the time, Emma,” he told her, looking straight into her eyes.

“I’m not—” She started to argue.

“When you’ve been through… what we have, it’s okay to let your guard down. It’s okay to have an off moment or two. It’s okay to just give in every once in a while,” he continued.

“It’s not that easy. I have a daughter to think about,” she said, shaking her head.

“So do I. But I am quite certain that she’s not missing me right this second while she’s asleep in bed, Emma. Your daughter – same thing,” he snapped slightly, telling her how it is.

Emma’s blood boiled from his bluntness. Who was he to say her daughter wasn’t missing her? He had no idea.

“Are you about to spout off some bullshit about how your daughter misses you every second, whether you’re with her or not?” He asked, sounding bored as he rolled his eyes passively at her.

Emma opened her mouth to say something, but found she had no words, only letting out a sigh of annoyance.

“I never said you weren’t the center of her world, Emma. You are. I’m just saying that right this second – in the middle of the night – her life it handled, alright. She’s asleep. Your mother is with her. And your mum was one of the best, you know,” he said, giving her a small smile.

Harry was being blunt and slightly inappropriate with his assumptions, but Emma found herself relaxing a bit from his words. If it was anyone else she probably would have slapped him already and left the pub.

“I can’t go home like this,” she breathed.

“You will be forgiven,” he told her.

I won’t forgive me,” she countered as she shook her head. Her mind was a mess of lowered inhibitions and loss of control.

“Listen, I don’t live far from here. We can walk. I can make us some coffee and then you can go home without fear of retribution,” he said, his words slightly sarcastic, but it was just one of the many facets of his personality.

“Okay,” she said quietly as she watched the bartender move fluidly behind the bar attending to his other patrons.

It was quite a long time since Emma reached that level of drunkenness, let alone drank any alcohol. Her daughter wasn’t that old, plus there was nine months of pregnancy where she couldn’t drink, and she had yet to touch a drink since Madeline was born because of breast feeding. This was just so unlike her to let her inhibitions down. But if she remembered correctly, Harry always had a way to get her to give in to imperfect moments.

 

“The Script is going to be in Manchester, Emmy!” Harry said, coming up to her at her locker after school.

“What?” She asked him, needing some sort of clarification.

“The Script! Tonight! In Manchester!” He said, seemingly extra hyped up.

“Okay,” she said, looking at him wide-eyed, still unsure how this was supposed to affect her.

“Let’s go!” He said quickly.

“What? No way,” she scoffed, thinking he was absolutely crazy.

“Yes, Emma!” He insisted.

“Harry, I know that The Script is like, your favorite band, but I can’t just go to Manchester with you,” she told him, axing his idea altogether.

“Why not?” He asked, slumping his shoulders slightly after she shot him down.

“Because my mum would kill me, for one,” she said, looking at him incredulously.

“She doesn’t have to know. Tell her you’re going to my house and I’ll tell my mum I’m going to your house. We’ll be back by curfew,” he said, sounding as if he really thought it through. She was certain he could make up and find an excuse for anything.

“Harry, no,” she said, shaking her head as she closed her locker.

“Come on, Emmy,” he groaned, sounding exasperated.

“What if we get caught, Harry?” She asked him.

“We won’t. Seriously, you need to live a little,” he told her.

“I live just fine… in Holmes Chapel and not grounded,” she retorted.

“Emma Rose Haines, stop being little miss perfect and experience the imperfect side of life, which so happens to be the funner side of life,” he scoffed, rolling his eyes at her.

“More fun,” she corrected him.

“Yeah. It will be more fun,” he said, getting excited.

“No. I was correcting you. Funner isn’t a word,” she said, pursing her lips at him.

“Emma,” he growled through his teeth as he gave her a playful glare.

“Gahhh. Fine. But I’m totally coming after you when my mum finds out,” she said, pointing an accusatory finger at him.

“Yah gotta live a little,” he said, smiling widely, obviously pleased with himself that he got her to crack.

 

“What are you smiling about?” Harry asked as they walked silently to his flat, which apparently was only two blocks away.

“Nothing. Well, just… I don’t know. Just how you always had a way of getting me to give in… to everything,” she said, looking up at him with a small smirk on her lips.

“I never made you do anything you didn’t want to do deep down,” he said, snickering to himself.

“No. That is true,” she said quietly.

“We had fun together,” he added.

“We did. I was just thinking about how you got me to take the tube into Manchester to go see The Script,” she said, smiling again at the memory.

“Ha. Yeah,” he laughed out loud.

“And like, the venue was so packed that we couldn’t even get close,” she continued.

“But it was still fun. And we never got caught,” he said, smiling proudly at his adolescent self.

“True. We never did,” she said, nodding her head.

“We had a lot of fun together, Emma,” he said again after a moment of fallen silence.

“We did,” she agreed again, smiling up at him.

“I’m glad we’re here,” he said, and she knew he didn’t mean he was glad about their circumstances which brought them there, but just the fact that they were there – together.

“Me too, Harry,” Emma said quietly, watching him bow his head as he walked, but kept the smile on his face.

He was a beautiful man – so incredibly beautiful. And to see his smile after all this time, after all his heartbreak – it meant so much to her.

“Here it is,” he said, slowing his pace before turning toward the door of the nearest building.

Emma snapped out of her thoughts and followed his actions.

“How do you like your coffee?” He asked as he unlocked the outer door.

“Strong,” she told him, thinking the stronger the coffee, the better it would help to sober her up.

Emma followed him up two stories and watched as he unlocked the door to flat 3B.

When Harry opened the door and flipped on the light, Emma couldn’t help but be completely caught off guard at the sight of his flat. It was not what she was expecting at all. She knew he had a daughter, but in her head she still pictured him living in some sort of bachelor pad. Instead, there were finger paintings and drawings lining the walls, dolls and a play kitchen set taking up a good chunk of the living room, and pictures of a curly haired chubby cheeked little girl all over the place.

“Is that… is that Haven?” Emma asked, pointing at a large portrait of the adorable girl.

“That’s my Haven,” he said with a proud smile on his face as he took off his jacket and hung it on a hook by the door.

“Oh my god, Harry. She is… she’s perfect,” Emma said, looking back at him as she shrugged off her jacket and he took it from her, hanging it next to his.

“Thank you. She’s got me wrapped completely around her finger,” he said, smirking bashfully.

Emma’s heart flourished for him. The thought of their amazing father/daughter relationship did all sorts of things to her – something she never got to see with her husband and their daughter because he left them so suddenly.

Harry cleared his throat and Emma realized that the admiring stare down she was giving him made him uncomfortable.

“So, coffee…” He said awkwardly.

“Right,” she said and watched him walk toward the kitchen.

She didn’t follow, wanting to look at the rest of the pictures that were displayed on the shelves of his entertainment center. She was struck immobile when she came across a picture of Harry and what must have been his wife, Hannah.

She was so beautiful. She had long brown hair, just like Emma and similar hazel eyes, ones that she could see in resemblance when looking at the photos of Haven. Emma felt a lump form in her throat as she gazed at the picture – at the tragedy of it all. Harry and Haven were alone – having a part of them ripped away so unfairly.

She wanted to cry. She wanted to burst into tears as her whole heart filled with empathy, but she choked them back, knowing it would be the last thing Harry wanted to deal with. He didn’t need her reminding him of what he lost.

Emma took a step back away from the shelf just as Harry walked out from the kitchen. His eyes stared questioningly into hers.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“I-I’m fine,” she squeaked out and watched as his eyes found the picture she was just staring at. He took a deep steady breath and let it out, shaking his head slightly. Emma bit her lip because she didn’t know what to say.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said quietly.

“I know,” she whispered.

“I just… it’s… you know…” He stammered, looking down at the ground.

“Harry, I know,” she said, taking a step toward him.

His eyes came up to search hers and she felt it – she felt that spark they always had. The spark that apparently never left. Desire flooded her body for him and she knew in the moment how wildly inappropriate it was, but with the lowered inhibitions, she didn’t seem to care. Harry’s words looped in her mind.

It’s okay to not be perfect all the time.

Emma placed her hand on Harry’s chest, right over his rapidly beating heart. And even though she was the one making the move, her breathing still hitched in her throat.

“Emma,” Harry breathed, his eyes never leaving hers and hers never left his. They were having a whole conversation without saying a word.

Harry’s hand came up and slid his finger smoothly through the front of her hair, tucking the strands loosely behind her ear. Emma was aching for him to kiss her. She wanted him so badly to kiss her. She needed it. But he was being so cautious, moving so slowly. His head moved forward, but only millimeters, causing her body to almost quiver under his gaze.

“Harry,” she nearly whimpered.

With that, he crashed his lips hard against hers and his hand wrapped around the back of her neck, tangling in her hair. Emma whimpered against his lips as the kiss deepened exponentially in a matter of seconds. Her fingers were gripping tightly to the front of his t-shirt as his hands were pulling her closer and closer to his body. She wanted this. She wanted him.

Her hands came down to push up the hem of his shirt with the heels of her palms and he quickly reached back, taking matters into his own hands. He pulled at the back of the shirts collar and ripped it off his body, breaking their kiss only momentarily. Emma’s hands moved over his exposed flesh, seeing for the first time all of the tattoos that peppered his chest and left arm. It was so sexy and only helped to feed her budding desire.

Harry’s fingers worked up into the back of Emma’s shirt as his fingertips tickled her flesh and it made her want to be naked with him. She wanted him like she had him many times before – before they were nothing to each other. Back when he was her everything.

“Harry,” Emma whimpered against his lips and he let out a low groan as his hands wrapped around the back of her thighs, pulling her up into his arms.

He kissed her the whole time he carried her to his bedroom with the dark sheets and pale white walls. The rest of their clothes were strategically removed and tossed haphazardly onto his floor. Harry’s heated kisses that stretched from her head to her toes were sending her over the edge – so much so that she thought she might explode if he took one more second to worship her body.

Please,” she whimpered and Harry knew what she needed.

His eyes found hers, the same hunger and desire reflected back to him. Nothing could stop them now – they were like a speeding freight train without brakes. Emma wasn’t stopping and neither was he.

When Harry finally pushed inside of her, Emma’s whole body contracted for him as a low moan emanated from her throat. Harry’s face was buried in the crook of her neck, kissing and teasing her with his mouth as his lower half moved swiftly in and out of her, already building her up to her brink.

Emma held him tightly as her body shook for him, letting out a low cry.

Fuck, Emma,” Harry groaned in her ear as his rhythm grew faster and faster.

Harry’s moans soon became grunts and Emma knew he was close. She gripped onto his backside, pressing him deeper into her and he let go with a loud groan, his chest heaving with exhaustion. As soon as he was done, he collapsed half on top of her and half on the mattress, before completely rolling off of her onto his back.

As Emma’s breathing started to go back to normal, her mind finally registered just what it all meant – the fact that Patrick was no longer the last man she was with. Panic rose in her chest as tears built in their ducts. She knew she couldn’t continue living her life in her husband’s memory, but still it was all too much for her to handle. Her hands came up to her face as she pressed the heels of her palms into her eye sockets, trying to dam her tears.

“Emma,” Harry whispered, turning toward her.

“Forgive me,” she choked out.

“Emmy…” Harry’s voice came out softer and more sympathetic.

“I don’t want to cry, but my emotions… I’m sorry. I just… it’s not you, Harry. I’m sorry,” she said, pulling her hands away from her eyes, looking over at him.

“It’s okay, Emma,” he said, looking at her sadly.

“I just… this… this shouldn’t have happened. Not right now,” she told him and he let out a deep sigh.

“I’m sorry,” she choked out.

“It’s okay, Emma,” he said, his voice a little colder, but she knew he was still trying to be the nice guy.

She choked out a sob as she sat up, scrambling to the opposite side of the mattress.

“I don’t want to hurt you. But every time… I can’t… I don’t mean to—” She cried into her hands.

“Emma, it’s okay. You weren’t ready,” he said softly.

“But I really feel like a part of me was. And then there’s just this other part of me that feels so much guilt over it already,” she told him.

“Please don’t cry. I can’t handle seeing you cry,” Harry said sweetly as he got out of the bed and knelt in front of her, his boxer briefs already replaced on his body.

“I’m sorry,” she said, wiping at her eyes.

“Please, Emmy. Just… just don’t let this ruin… things,” he said, placing his fingers under her chin to force her to look him in the eyes.

“I…” She choked out.

“I love getting to know you again. Your presence has helped me so much with… with the coping,” he confessed. Emma’s face scrunched up as more tears broke free from her eyes.

“Please, Emmy. Don’t cry,” he said, reaching up to wipe her tears away with the pads of his thumbs.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He stood up and pulled her into his arms, hugging her naked body tightly to his.

“We’re going to be okay,” he breathed in her ear, and somehow she knew she should believe him.

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